The Ipperwash Inquiry



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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT THE COMMISSION

What is the Ipperwash Inquiry?

The Ipperwash Inquiry is a public inquiry that will examine and report on all the events surrounding the death of Dudley George who was shot during a protest by Aboriginal people at the Ipperwash Provincial Park in 1995. It will also look at government policies and practices and make recommendations aimed at avoiding violence in similar circumstances.

In order to accomplish this, the Inquiry will be divided into two parts. Part 1 will focus on what happened at Ipperwash and Part 2 will deal with the broader policy issues. Both will run at the same time.


What is a public inquiry?

Governments appoint public inquiries to investigate and report on matters of substantial public interest. The mandate of each inquiry is set out in its terms of reference. It is not a trial. No one is charged with any criminal offence, nor is anyone being sued.

The Terms of Reference creating the Commission direct that the Commission shall perform its duties without expressing any conclusions of recommendation regarding civil or criminal liability of any person or organization.


Is this a Government investigation?

No. The Inquiry is independent. It is being paid for by the Government but under Public Inquiries Act it is totally independent. All Government ministries and agencies have been directed to cooperate with the Inquiry.


Who heads the Inquiry?

Justice Sidney B. Linden, a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice who has served as Chief Justice of the Ontario Court and as Chair of the Board of Legal Aid Ontario.


Who are "Commission Counsel" and what is their role?

Commission Counsel are lawyers who work for the Commissioner. Unlike in a trial, they do not have an adversarial role. They represent the public interest and their responsibility is to bring all relevant evidence to the attention of the Commissioner.


When and where will the hearings take place?

Some of the hearings will be held at the Forest Memorial Community Centre (Kimball Hall) in Forest, Ontario, and some in Toronto. Forest is part of the Municipality of Lambton Shores. The hearings will start on April 20, 2004, when Justice Linden will hear applications for standing. A tentative schedule for the hearings is available on the "schedule" page. The schedule will be updated as information becomes available.


What is meant by "standing?"

In order to take part in the Inquiry, a person or an organization must have official status to take part in the proceedings. This is called "standing." Standing gives the person or organization the right to cross-examine witnesses and receive all relevant documentation.


Who can apply for standing?

Any person or organization who can show that they have a "direct and substantial interest" in the subject under examination. More information is available in the Rules of Procedure and Practice.


What is meant by "funding" and who can apply?

The Commissioner may make recommendations to the Government to provide funding to people or organizations who have been granted standing but would not be able to participate in the Inquiry without funding. More information is available in the Rules of Procedure and Practice.


What is the purpose of Part 2 of the Inquiry?

The purpose of Part 2 is to make recommendations at avoiding violence in similar circumstances in the future.


How will this be accomplished?

The process of Part 2 of the Inquiry will be different than Part 1. The Commission's objective is to promote an informed and public discussion and analysis of key policy issues raised by the death of Dudley George. The Commission will do this by:

  • Commissioning research and policy papers;
  • Organizing meetings and symposia;
  • Inviting submissions from the public and persons or organizations who have an interest in the Inquiry;
  • Holding evidentiary hearings as necessary;
  • Posting commissioned research and policy material and public submissions on its website and seeking comments from the public.

More details are available in the Rules of Procedure and Practice.


Will all the proceedings be public?

It is expected that the testimony heard at the Inquiry will be public. But the Commissioner does have the power to hold hearings behind closed doors in special circumstances such as matters involving public security or where keeping personal matters may outweigh the benefits of public disclosure. Witnesses must make a special application to be heard behind closed doors. The Rules of Procedure and Practice contain more details.


What will happen when the Inquiry ends?

The Commissioner will write a report containing his findings and recommendations and deliver it to the Attorney General of Ontario who will make it public.


Is the Government obliged to adopt the recommendations?

No, the recommendations are not legally binding but past inquiries have had an important effect on public policy.

 

 

 

 

 


©2004 The Ipperwash Inquiry